If you’re fed up eating the same old dried meals while you’re camping, Moveable Feasts by Amy-Jane Beer and Roy Halpin contains everything you’d ever want to know about camp cookery and then a fair bit more. Split into two unequal sections, the first section starts off with a ten chapter detailed reference section which contains anything and everything about cooking in the great outdoors. The final third of the book contains detailed and thoroughly illustrated recipes for all tastes and abilities.
You can dip into the book, picking out sections that are of the most interest. It starts off with a detailed explanation of what nutrition you may need on the hill before explaining what every conceivable bit of food related kit does and why you’d need to take it on the mountain. The depth of coverage impressed me as I expected that items such as backpacking ovens and the like would be overlooked, but along with barbecues and kelly kettles it seems that no stove was left unturned in the compilation of this book.
The section on different food stuffs and ingredients is possibly the most useful chapter, and gives you a strong starting point for setting up your own camping larder. It’s not always apparent from the supermarket shelves what’s suitable for the camp-site and what’s not. Even how you package and carry them is detailed. If you don’t want to buy all your ingredients then there’s also a short chapter on foraging. This gives you just a taster of what foods can be foraged at various times of the year, and is a welcome addition. You’ll obviously need to invest in a foraging book in order to do so seriously.
A chapter on camp hygiene will certainly go a long way to reducing any dodgy stomach issues that can spoil a trip. This is essential reading matter for the novice wild camper and should be compulsory reading for anyone considering taking groups out on expeditions or undertaking mountain leader training. If you’ve been wild camping for more years than you care to mention, then you should still find a few hints and tips in here, along with the recipe ideas. The page on how to quickly measure ingredients with your hand and simple cooking kit was one of the many tips I found useful.
The recipes are obviously a matter of taste, but can at least serve as inspiration. One of these recipes was plain old rice pudding and has given me a new camping staple, but with the twist of being made from flaked rice that cooks much quicker than regular pudding rice. A simple recipe of powdered milk, flaked rice and sugar is easy to prepare and cooks in a matter of minutes. Our finishing touch was a squirt of condensed milk from a tube and a sprinkle of nutmeg. This tasted as good as any home made rice pudding that I’ve had, making it a popular choice on the hill for recent trips.
Other recipes vary from the easy to prepare noodly soup that’s basically noodles and dried soup (the best ideas are often obvious) on to carbonara that is rather more complex yet not beyond the ability of most. The complexity stems largely from the need to take more kit such as knives and somewhere to chop, along with difficult to carry ingredients such as eggs. Finally, some fun recipes such as fondue and popcorn are included that can make a camping trip memorable for children or adults alike! For those wanting an adults only recipe, then the mulled wine will make November wild camps almost bearable. As a bonus, they seem to agree with my method of making proper camping coffee as well.
While the book is geared to camping in general, it does veer in the direction of the self propelled rather than the car camper and succeeds in striking a delicate balance between base camp and utralightweight. I would have liked to have seen more recipes for camp ovens, but as it’s a very specialised request it’s somehat understandable. It seems that I’ll have to post some Camping Gourmet articles on how to make pizza and lasagnae on the mountain some time this summer!
All in all, this book is recommended not only for those of you who appreciate real food on the hill, but also to inspire those of you that just can’t be bothered to cook on the hill. Even if you just cook a bannock and some pop corn then it’ll add a bit of variety to your wild camps and might just start you off as an outdoor gourmet. The authors also come across as having actually enjoyed putting this book together and never let you forget that it’s all about enjoying yourself!